China Flies 24 Warplanes Near Taiwan After US Approval of Arms Sales

China Flies 24 Warplanes Near Taiwan After US Approval of Arms Sales
A Chinese military jet flies over Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest point from Taiwan, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Taiwan’s military detected 24 Chinese warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers, and five vessels near the island just a day after the United States announced its approval of two potential arms sales to Taiwan.

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Chinese warplanes and vessels were conducting “joint combat readiness and police patrol” near the island at around 8 a.m. (local time) on June 30.

Of those, 11 warplanes were spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taiwan’s military to dispatch aircraft, ships, and shore-based missile systems in response, the ministry said.

Beijing’s latest show of force followed the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA) decision on June 29 to approve two potential arms sales to Taiwan, valued at up to $440 million.

The DSCA said the first deal includes 30 mm high explosive incendiary-tracer rounds, 30 mm multi-purpose rounds, 30 mm training rounds, and other related equipment, which totaled an estimated $332.2 million.
The second deal, worth $108 million, consists of a blanket order cooperative logistics supply support arrangement, which will support Taiwan’s purchase of spare and repair parts for wheeled vehicles, weapons, and other related elements.

The DSCA said it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible arms sales and assured that these proposed sales “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

“The proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s goal of maintaining its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States,” the agency stated.

China’s foreign ministry has strongly opposed the U.S. move and urged Washington to stop selling arms to Taiwan.

10th Arms Sales Approved Under Biden

Taiwanese leadership said the latest arms sales marked the 10th agreement approved by the Biden administration, demonstrating the importance that Washington places on Taiwan’s defense needs.
“These [Foreign Military Sales] are based on Taiwan Relations Act and Six Assurances, providing the need for enhancing our defense capacity as well as maintaining regional stability,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry said the U.S. arms sales would help bolster Taiwan’s defense resilience against the Chinese regime’s “continuing expansion of military and grey zone oppression,” which has posed “a serious threat” to the island.

Washington had also approved the potential arms sale of $619 million to Taiwan on March 1, which includes missiles and other equipment for Taiwan’s F-16 fleet.

This arrangement includes 200 anti-aircraft Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 100 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM), 23 HARM training missiles, four AMRAAM Guidance Sections, and 26 multi-purpose launchers.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council welcomed this move but reiterated that munitions and sustainment of legacy systems would not be enough to provide a full defense of the island.

Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters in the air during a scramble take off at the eastern Hualien air force base on Jan. 23, 2013. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)
Two U.S.-made F-16 fighters in the air during a scramble take off at the eastern Hualien air force base on Jan. 23, 2013. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)
“The absence of a broader plan to assist in modernizing Taiwan’s armed forces will, over time, open up new vulnerabilities in Taiwan’s defenses that the Chinese Communist Party will seek to exploit,” U.S.-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said in a statement on March 2.

“The current narrow approach is not enough, as it will create significant financial and military challenges in the future. Force modernization is an ongoing year-on-year effort; it cannot be pushed into the indefinite future without serious evolving damage to Taiwan’s national defense,” he added.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be united with the mainland by any means necessary, even though Taiwan has never been ruled by the CCP and has its own democratic government.

The United States has maintained a precarious middle position in this status quo since the establishment of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. It formally recognizes—but doesn’t endorse—the CCP’s viewpoint. The United States also maintains legal ties with Taiwan guaranteeing that it will supply the island with the arms it needs for self-defense.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.